I’m going to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon in three movies. And then some text.
There’s this universal shorthand that epic adventure movies use to tell the good guys from the bad. The good guys are simple folk from the countryside …
… while the bad guys are decadent assholes who live in the city and wear stupid clothes:
In Star Wars, Luke is a farm boy …
… while the bad guys live in a shiny space station:
In Braveheart, the main character (Dennis Braveheart) is a simple farmer …
… and the dastardly Prince Shithead lives in a luxurious castle and wears fancy, foppish clothes:
The theme expresses itself in several ways — primitive vs. advanced, tough vs. delicate, masculine vs. feminine, poor vs. rich, pure vs. decadent, traditional vs. weird. All of it is code for rural vs. urban. That tense divide between the two doesn’t exist because of these movies, obviously. These movies used it as shorthand because the divide already existed.
We country folk are programmed to hate the prissy elites. That brings us to Trump.
6 It’s Not About Red And Blue States — It’s About The Country Vs. The City
I was born and raised in Trump country. My family are Trump people. If I hadn’t moved away and gotten this ridiculous job, I’d be voting for him. I know I would.
See, political types talk about “red states” and “blue states” (where red = Republican/conservative and blue = Democrat/progressive), but forget about states. If you want to understand the Trump phenomenon, dig up the much more detailed county map. Here’s how the nation voted county by county in the 2012 election — again, red is Republican:
Holy cockslaps, that makes it look like Obama’s blue party is some kind of fringe political faction that struggles to get 20 percent of the vote. The blue parts, however, are more densely populated — they’re the cities. In the upper left, you see the blue Seattle/Tacoma area, lower down is San Francisco and then L.A. The blue around the dick-shaped Lake Michigan is made of cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago. In the northeast is, of course, New York and Boston, leading down into Philadelphia, which leads into a blue band which connects a bunch of southern cities like Charlotte and Atlanta.
Blue islands in an ocean of red. The cities are less than 4 percent of the land mass, but 62 percent of the population and easily 99 percent of the popular culture. Our movies, shows, songs, and news all radiate out from those blue islands.
And if you live in the red, that fucking sucks.
See, I’m from a “blue” state — Illinois — but the state isn’t blue. Freaking Chicago is blue. I’m from a tiny town in one of the blood-red areas:
Inqvisitor / Wiki Commons Where Oprahs fear to tread.
As a kid, visiting Chicago was like, well, Katniss visiting the capital. Or like Zoey visiting the city of the future in this ridiculous book. “Their ways are strange.“
And the whole goddamned world revolves around them.
Every TV show is about LA or New York, maybe with some Chicago or Baltimore thrown in. When they did make a show about us, we were jokes — either wide-eyed, naive fluffballs (Parks And Recreation, and before that, Newhart) or filthy murderous mutants (True Detective, and before that, Deliverance). You could feel the arrogance from hundreds of miles away.
“Nothing that happens outside the city matters!” they say at their cocktail parties, blissfully unaware of where their food is grown. Hey, remember when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? Kind of weird that a big hurricane hundreds of miles across managed to snipe one specific city and avoid everything else. To watch the news (or the multiple movies and TV shows about it), you’d barely hear about how the storm utterly steamrolled rural Mississippi, killing 238 people and doing an astounding $125 billion in damage.
Mark Wolfe / FEMA No sports team = no fucks given.
But who cares about those people, right? What’s newsworthy about a bunch of toothless hillbillies crying over a flattened trailer? New Orleans is culturally important. It matters.
To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. “Are you assholes listening now?“
5 City People Are From A Different Goddamned Planet
“But isn’t this really about race? Aren’t Trump supporters just a bunch of racists? Don’t they hate cities because that’s where the brown people live?”
Look, we’re going to get actual Nazis in the comment section of this article. Not “calling them Nazis for argument points” Nazis, but actual “Swastikas in their avatars, rooted against Indiana Jones” Nazis. Those people exist.
But what I can say, from personal experience, is that the racism of my youth was always one step removed. I never saw a family member, friend, or classmate be mean to the actual black people we had in town. We worked with them, played video games with them, waved to them when they passed. What I did hear was several million comments about how if you ever ventured into the city, winding up in the “wrong neighborhood” meant you’d get dragged from your car, raped, and burned alive. Looking back, I think the idea was that the local minorities were fine … as long as they acted exactly like us.
Supaflyrobby / Wiki Commons Our mental image of every single Chicago street corner, regardless of location or time of day.
If you’d asked me at the time, I’d have said the fear and hatred wasn’t of people with brown skin, but of that specific tribe they have in Chicago — you know, the guys with the weird slang, music and clothes, the dope fiends who murder everyone they see. It was all part of the bizarro nature of the cities, as perceived from afar — a combination of hyper-aggressive savages and frivolous white elites. Their ways are strange. And it wasn’t like pop culture was trying to talk me out of it:
Ruthless Records”… And Into Some Nightmares”
It’s not just perception, either — the stats back up the fact that these are parallel universes. People living in the countryside are twice as likely to own a gun and will probably get married younger. People in the urban “blue” areas talk faster and walk faster. They are more likely to be drug abusers but less likely to be alcoholics. The blues are less likely to own land and, most importantly, they’re less likely to be Evangelical Christians.
Mario Tama/Getty ImagesA day without hellfire and brimstone is like a day without sunshine.
In the small towns, this often gets expressed as “They don’t share our values!” and my progressive friends love to scoff at that. “What, like illiteracy and homophobia?!?!“
4 Trends Always Start In The Cities — And Not All Of Them Are Good
The cities are always living in the future. I remember when our little town got our first Chinese restaurant and, 20 years later, its first fancy coffee shop. All of this stuff had turned up in movies (set in L.A., of course) decades earlier. I remember watching ’80s movies and mocking the “Valley Girl” stereotypes — young girls from, like, California who would, like, say, “like” in between every third word. Twenty years later, you can hear me doing the same in every Cracked podcast. The cancer started in L.A. and spread to the rest of America.
Well, the perception back then was that those city folks were all turning atheist, abandoning church for their bisexual sex parties. That, we were told, was literally a sign of the Apocalypse. Not just due to the spiritual consequences (which were dire), but the devastation that would come to the culture. I couldn’t imagine any rebuttal. In that place, at that time, the church was everything. Don’t take my word for it — listen to the experts:
Church was where you made friends, met girls, networked for jobs, got social support. The poor could get food and clothes there, couples could get advice on their marriages, addicts could try to get clean. But now we’re seeing a startling decline in Christianity among the general population, the godless disease having spread alongside Valley Girl talk. So according to Fox News, what’s the result of those decadent, atheist, amoral snobs in the cities having turned their noses up at God?
Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Scott Olson/Getty Images, Darren McCollester/Getty Images
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